I was fortunate enough to be asked to cover the Chamonix stage of the Freeride world Tour for www.Chamonet.com The tour is a multi stage event where some of the worlds best off piste big mountain skiers and snowboarders compete against each other to find the most creative, stylish and technically challenging line down the mountain.
On Thursday, my day started at the top of Flegere where I could meet the competitors, have a chat about the tour and get some photos. It was also a chance for the athletes to view the area where they would be riding down. This was a very relaxed affair with the competitors all chatting between themselves on what route to take, which cliffs looked nice to trick off and where not to go.
An interview with the winner from the first stage of the tour: Sascha Hamm.
This is the first interview I have ever done. note to self : get a decent mic and sort out the exposure!
After 40-50cm of snow falling just the previous night, the face was looking in good condition for the following days proceedings, although high winds and variable temps meant that a hard crust had formed in places so the competitors had to pick their line wisely.
After the mornings proceedings, a few off us met up with the 3 times FWT champion and one of snowboardings big mountain living legends Xavier de la Rue for an afternoon of testing out the Hexo+ Drone. Please click on the link for more information https://hexoplus.com/
It was so easy to operate the Drone using just a smartphone app, there are a number of differing commands pre programmed in to get you flying straight out of the box (I did end up kind of crashing it into the mountainside) however all was fine and it launched again without any problems. Check out the following video from Red Bull where Xavier uses the drone to capture some incredible footage of a recent big mountain line herein Chamonix. http://www.redbull.com/fr/fr/snow/stories/1331774676798/xavier-de-le-rue-voie-couloir-mallory-chamonix-pente-video
Overall it was a really fun day hanging out with all the competitors, there was a super relaxed happy vibe and to top it off, I got to ride with one of snowboardings greats.
Day 2 started at around 5,45 for all the riders. I thought I would get up the mountain nice and early to make the most of having the chance to ride a few laps by torch light (shame I forgot my head torch) There was still just enough light though to get a few incredible runs on an empty mountain.We had been blessed with another 30cm of snow overnight, making conditions really great for the days proceedings. As the morning light broke through the quickly dispersing clouds, sunrise gave us a wonderful light show over the mountains and a bluebird powder day to follow.
I met up with my good friend and fellow photographer Tom Humpage and we discussed where we would position ourselves so that we could cover as much of the mountain as possible. Once the first few competitors started to make their way to the top of the mountain, Tom and I made our way to our positions. I got myself setup directly below the start and tom was off to skiers right, where 75% of riders chose to come down!
I was using a Nikon FX camera with a Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens with a 2x teleconverter giving me a focal length of 140mm-400mmat f5.6. Zoom was ok but with the teleconverter, it softened the images just too much! Overall, I'm not super happy with any of my images from the competition day, however, being there with all these amazingly talented riders and seeing the camaraderie between them meant it was an unforgettable experience and a fantastic couple of days.